At 46 years young, Bernard Hopkins provided complete credence for his obsessive-compulsive health habits by winning the light-heavyweight championship over Jean Pascal on May 21. The aging fighter became the oldest champion in boxing history with the unanimous-decision victory. So how has the hall of famer managed to stay sharp for this long? We caught up with the Philadelphia native to find out.
It’s All in the Eyes
“It’s the inner that produces the outer. What’s in (your body has) got to come out. It shows. You can’t hide it,” Hopkins says. At the weigh-in a day before a fight, if an opponent looks dehydrated, he knows his opponent has drained himself down and that he won’t last 40 minutes. His opponent’s eyes tells him what their “liver and kidneys are doing.” Hopkins says yellow in the eyes shows you’re a drinker.
Develop Your Own “Diet”
Hopkins hates the word diet. “It’s a billion dollar business,” he says. When he started his boxing career at the age of 17 at the State Correctional Institution in Graterford, Pa., he learned to “survive on peanut butter and bread.” For the past few years though, he has developed a unique diet consisting mainly of boiled beets (swallowed whole) for breakfast and buffalo meat throughout the rest of the day. He also loves onions, oatmeal with some honey, and veggies. But don’t steam your vegetables too much, as Hopkins says your nutrients will go up in smoke. “‘Steam’ steams the vitamins out,” he says.
Listen to Your Body
In his 23-year career, Hopkins has faced digestive issues the day of big fights due to what he has eaten. There have been times when non-dry foods and salty snacks have forced him into the bathroom at 9:45 p.m., his trainers knocking on the stall door pleading with him to get to the ring for a 10 p.m. fight. If your getting the runs mid-workout as well, try Hopkins’ approach of eating dry mashed potatoes, chicken or fish. Crunchy semi-raw veggies are also fine, as is beet juice.
Truth Lives in the Blood
Doctors in Canada—the same cardiologists who work on Brad Pitt—performed EKGs on Hopkins and found the walls of his heart were so fibrous they couldn’t get a read on them. Later they equated his heart to that of a 24-year-old. Just like you chart your lifts, you should chart the strength of your heart. Visit a cardiologist and find out what your own heart-age is. “Trust me,” Hopkins says. “The blood work shows everything. You can’t cheat the blood.”
Treat Your Body Well
Hopkins doesn’t mince words regarding his frequenting of spas. Was there a time in his life where he would’ve looked at himself as flaky for lacing up manicured nails and toes? Yes. But now he treats his body as a temple, on the outside as well. Along with regular manicures and pedicures, he enjoys facials and steams to “let the impurities come out.” On the way home from the gym, stop by the nail salon and give it a go. “I ain’t got no complex about certain things,” Hopkins says. “And if [anyone] says something about it, look at my last fight and they’ll change their mind.”